Appan Malayalam Movie
In director Maju's Appan, Alencier Ley Lopez plays a despicable old man who abuses everyone, including his wife, son, and daughter-in-law. Lopez's Ittychan is bedridden and cannot live without the help of someone else in the family. However, he does not treat his family members with an iota of respect. He was and still is a womanizer. He treats even his mistress disrespectfully.
The man is so vile that his family and even the people in his village want him dead. But the family cannot kill him for obvious reasons, and he wouldn't die naturally, either. When some people from his village approach Ittychan's son, Sunny Wayne's Njoonju, to discuss the option of killing the old man, he flinches. He tells them that he does not want him or his family to go to prison for this. Instead, he agrees to an act of black magic against the old man.
Njoonju lives with the burden of his father's deeds. His father becomes such a pain in the butt that Njoonju even considers leaving the house, but he fears that no person in the village would give him a place to live as he is Ittychan's son. Sunny Wayne is terrific in an emotional scene where Njoonju tells his wife how difficult it was for him to grow up as Ittychan's son.
Appan also explores the relationship of Ittychan and his wife, Pauly Valsan's Kuttyamma. Given how much Ittychan abuses Kuttyamma, it is no surprise that their marriage is a lie. Kuttyamma is also distrustful of the old man when it comes to his extramarital relationships.
It is interesting to see how the family treats Ittychan's mistress, Radhika Radhakrishnan's Sheela. Their relationship evolves gradually and does not become like we often see in TV serials. It is good to see a Malayalam film humanizing a character like Sheela without being too judgmental.
The only issue I have with this film is the climax, which is a bit of a commercial concession. The climax seems a bit rushed and contains a slightly predictable piece of storytelling. It is as if the makers decided to make the climax slightly more commercial to satisfy the mainstream audience.
Nevertheless, Appan is a compelling exploration of toxic masculinity. It is not an easy film to watch, though. It is often a bit too solemn and somber, as you would expect with a film of this kind. What makes it engaging throughout is the performances. Sunny Wayne does not really explore all possible aspects of his character but shows surprising levels of improvement in the emotional scenes. Pauly Valsan once again shows us how effortless she can be in this kind of a role, which reminds us of Sukumari.
Alencier Lopez's effort to play a despicable old man shows somewhat, but the actor deserves credit for how much he makes us hate the character. I like how in-your-face his character is in this film. Grace Antony offers whatever little comic relief this film has on offer. Ananya is a stoic presence as Njoonju's wife. Radhika Radhakrishnan's performance ensures that her character is a human being with a great sense of dignity. These actors make the film that much more engaging.